Saturday, February 4, 2017


I remember when I was a child, probably around 10, I found a blue paperback book with a beautiful image on the cover. The title was in gold and I was so taken by the cover, I had to have the book. It was a collection of Greek Mythology. Did I ever read the book? No. When I tried to read the text, it was, well, Greek to me. I still have the book. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure where it is, but I know I still have it in my vast collection of books.

It wasn't until I heard storyteller Barbara McBride-Smith tell her Texas version of the Greek myths, It's Not Easy Being a Goddess: A Yellow Rose of Texas Tells the Greek Myths in her Native Tongue, that I even thought about that paperback book again. Did I read it then? Heavens no. I had purchased McBride-Smith's recording. I knew it was going to be much easier to understand. We're both Texans! We speak the same language, which is NOT Greek!

The next time the Greek Gods came into my life, it was through Percy Jackson. My son was then nine when my husband and I brought home an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of The Lightning Thief following the Texas Library Association's Annual Conference. He devoured the book and couldn't wait for me. I have to admit, I also enjoyed the book and read the next two as well.

A few weeks ago, I had the awesome pleasure of hearing Newbery medal winning author Kwame Alexander speak during the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. (He was actually speaking while the Atlanta Falcons were playing the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Conference Championship game. We all know how that ended. It was quite a spectacular evening in Atlanta, unless you are a Cheesehead!) While speaking, he creatively promoted his, and other author's books by using the titles. (The only exception for his recent or upcoming titles was Animal Ark. He said he just didn't know how to incorporate it without blatantly doing a promo.) One of the books which was splashed across the big screen was Bull by David Elliott.

by David Elliott
The image was up on the screen so quickly I really did not have a chance to fully grasp what I was seeing. The same evening (after watching the celebrations in the rain soaked streets) my husband and I attended a dinner hosted by HMH Books for Young Readers. As each of the editors introduced their upcoming titles, I made notes on my handout to remember which ones I wanted to read, review, and (if appropriate for my school) order. I was taken aback when I was the cover of Bull. This time, I had the opportunity to read the cover in its entirety while being introduced to this retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur.

I was thrilled when I was able to obtain a digital copy of the book for review. I started reading it alone, but was soon so taken with the poetry, I had to share it aloud with my husband. I felt I couldn't read it fast enough. I wanted to see how each character was going to be developed and the format in which they would shape their words. Since it was so late in the evening when we began this story time session, I sadly had to stop at the end of Book II. I felt let down by my husband's need for sleep. I wanted to keep reading. This was a story I had not heard before and I wanted to know the ending. Thankfully the next evening we got to read. It was incredible to see how each of the character's was "assigned" a poetic form which was carried throughout the book. The break down of each character's specific form and the manner in which they were chosen by the author.

This is a phenomenal book and should be included in public and university libraries. It should also be purchased for school libraries with the knowledge that this retelling of the Greek myth incorporates language of today's youth (no matter how much we wish to think everyone has a clean mouth). Some will be offended by the language, but the verse wouldn't flow or have the impact without those most obvious of profane words.

I have to say when reading the praise for the book on the back cover of the uncorrected, I knew I was going to be hooked when I saw the words of Allan Wolf (author of The Watch That Ends the Night and New Found Land), "Bull does for mythology what Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton has done for U.S. history." I could not have provided greater accolades myself. This was truly a wonderful book and I hope and pray Mr. Elliott presents us with more myths in his brilliant verse in the years to come.

Bull will be released for publication by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 28, 2017.

**To comply with guidelines set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, HMH Books for Young Readers has provided a complimentary electronic copy of Bull for review purposes. This review is my opinion and is in no way influenced by the author or publisher.

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